Sunday, January 20, 2008

Rheumatiod Arthritis and Rheumatic Fever - Comparative Studies

Because my family history sounded a warning I found this information interesting. My mother suffered from Rheumatic Fever and now I have Rheumatoid Arthritis! What is the connection if any?
With Rheumatic Fever the joints are likely to become swollen which can include the knees, ankles, elbows, and wrists. The pain often migrates from one joint to another. However, the greatest danger from the disease is the damage it can do to the heart. In more than half of all cases, rheumatic fever scars the valves of the heart, forcing this vital organ to work harder to pump blood. Over a period of months or even years -- particularly if the disease strikes again -- this damage to the heart can lead to a serious condition known as rheumatic heart disease, which can eventually cause the heart to fail.
Rheumatic fever results from an inflammatory reaction to certain Group A Streptococcus bacteria. The body produces antibodies to fight the bacteria, but instead the "antibodies attack a different target: the body's own tissues." The antibodies begin with the joints and often move on to the heart and surrounding tissues.

A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF SUBCUTANEOUS NODULES IN RHEUMATIC FEVER AND RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS by M. H. Dawson M.D. from the Department of Medicine of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, and the Arthritis Clinic of the Presbyterian Hospital, New York.
The foregoing comparative study on the subcutaneous nodules in rheumatic fever and rheumatoid arthritis is presented as part of an investigation which has been conducted in this clinic on the relationship of the two clinical entities, rheumatic fever and rheumatoid arthritis. It is believed that the present study has shown that these lesions are highly characteristic of the two diseases and that they represent different phases of the same, fundamental, pathological process. However, it should be pointed out that the presence of closely related or even identical lesions in two, separate, clinical entities cannot be considered as valid evidence in support of the hypothesis that the two diseases are etiologically related. Comparative clinical studies on the relationship of rheumatic fever and rheumatoid arthritis will be presented in a succeeding communication. These studies, as well as serological investigations on the two diseases which have been reported elsewhere, and lend further support to the conception that rheumatic fever and rheumatoid arthritis are intimately related and possibly different responses of affected individuals to the same etiological agent.
Like Rheumatic Fever, RA being a systemic disease affects the whole body. Some researchers suspect that rheumatoid arthritis is triggered by an infection — possibly a virus or bacterium — in people with an inherited susceptibility. Although the disease itself is not inherited, certain genes that create an increased susceptibility are.
Rheumatoid arthritis can show up in organs such as the heart, blood vessels, lungs, and eyes and other organs.
Rheumatoid arthritis works somewhat differently outside the joints, but the results are still damage to the tissues, pain and loss of function.
< Because only a small fraction (fewer than 0.3%) of people with strep ever contract rheumatic fever, medical experts believe that other factors, such as a weakened immune system, must also be involved in the development of the disease.

It's important to learn your family history, it helps each of us to determine what treatment plan is acceptable.

"Good Health to You"

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